Renting a Car - What your Auto Insurance Covers?
You’re standing at the rental car counter with a long line behind you. You got a great rate on a car for the week, and you’re ready to go on vacation with the family. Then, you’re handed a clipboard with an intimidating rental car contract filled with confusing insurance options. Suddenly, you wish you’d spent less time packing and more time researching rental car insurance.
Here’s your chance to be prepared at the rental car counter so you can be on your way faster, and you’ll keep the people in line behind you happy.
I have car insurance. Do I really need to buy their coverage, too?
This is the most common question when it comes to renting a car for domestic travel. The answer is: it depends. You want to make sure you’re covered, but you also don’t want to pay for unnecessary duplicate coverages that could double the price of your rental.
The first step is to check your auto insurance policy, or contact your Independent Insurance Agent to see what type of coverage for rental cars may already be included in your personal auto insurance. If you carry comprehensive and liability coverage on your personal car, coverage typically will extend to your rental car. If you’re renting a car of similar value to your personal car, in all likelihood the insurance coverage will be adequate for the rental vehicle. Now if you’re off to a blowout beach weekend in a slick set of wheels like a Corvette Stingray and you’re leaving your 2008 Subaru Forester at home, the extra coverage offered by the rental company might be a good idea.
You should also check with the credit card company—the credit card that you’ll be using for your car rental. If there are any gaps in coverage with your personal auto policy, the credit card company could provide secondary coverage.
Understanding the Rental Car Insurance Options
Rental car agencies typically break out their extra insurance offerings into four sections:
Liability coverage is intended to help protect you if you injure someone or damage their property while driving. If you have sufficient liability coverage through your own auto insurance, you may not need to buy extra coverage from the rental agency.
Collision/loss damage waiver (also known as an LDW or CDW) isn't technically insurance. If you damage the rental car, this waiver may help cover the cost of repairing it. The waiver typically excludes coverage for damage caused by speeding or driving on unpaved roads.An LDW may duplicate your existing coverage if you have collision and comprehensive coverage on your own car. However, if you've dropped collision or comprehensive coverage from your policy, and you don't purchase the waiver, you would likely have to pay for damage you cause to the rental car. Additionally, a rental agency could charge you for "loss of use" of the car (lost rental income) while the car is in the shop being repaired. Your own auto policy typically won't reimburse you for that. Be sure to read your car rental agreement carefully to clarify what kinds of charges you could incur if you were to damage the vehicle.
Personal effects coverage may help cover your personal belongings, such as your laptop or clothing, if they're stolen from the rental car. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, the personal property coverage on that policy typically helps cover your personal items through what's known as "off-premises coverage." Off-premises items are usually only covered up to a certain percentage of your personal property coverage. The deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance will apply. Check with your agent about the limits of your coverage.
Personal accident insurance may help pay your and your passengers' medical bills if you're injured in a rental car accident. If you have health insurance, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection on your car insurance policy, you may already have coverage comparable to what the rental company offers. Medical payments coverage and personal injury protection (not available in all states) may help pay for medical bills due to a covered car accident.
Now you know... The next time you rent a car you will be prepared when they hand you that annoying clipboard and put the high pressured sales pitch on you! Knowledge is the key!